Small Wars Journal
  • “It's so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong and you're dangerous.”
    -- Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster
  • “Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer.”
    -- Colonel (Ret.) John Collins, The Warlord Emeritus
  • “So, I’m going to give you a proposed solution,” Zinni told the group. “I’m going to say we need to create an interagency command” to manage America’s response to complex or “hybrid” security crises. “I hate to use that word, ‘command,’ because I don’t mean it to be military.”
    -- General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni
  • “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “Tunnel systems and irregular urban warfare are essentially advanced methods of cover and concealment. Given that the mission of the infantry is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver,” if the enemy can prevent us from locating him or closing with him, it will be nearly impossible for us to destroy him.”
    -- William Birdzell

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



New and now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.



Shadow Preflight - Army Spc. Fernando Marzan conducts preflight inspections on an RQ-7B Shadow in Afghanistan on 8 April 2019. Photo by Army Sgt. Jordan Trent.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

Small Wars Journal publishes original works from authentic voices across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We also link you to relevant goings on elsewhere.  Login with your SWJ Username to comment, or Register, it's free. You can start your own threads in the Small Wars Council discussion board, but note that the board requires a separate Council Username. Follow SWJ on Twitter @smallwars.

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by J. “Lumpy” Lumbaca | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 6:25am | 0 comments
The past two decades in the Indo-Pacific region have resulted in remarkable change across the terrorist landscape. Attacks and deaths are down, but jihadist ideology and threats persist. The Indo-Pacific states of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines consistently remain among the “Top 10” countries affected by terrorism according to the Global Terrorism Index report. If there was any doubt whether or not 2019 would see a continuation of the deadly trend, this year’s bombing just days before the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite, the Pulwama terrorist attack in India, the breakup of an international terrorist cell in Malaysia, and the New Zealand mosque shootings all serve to remind us that extremism remains at our front door.
by Robert Hunter Ward | Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:46am | 0 comments
To a large extent, the question of whether remote warfare waged by RPAs is ethical depends on if one believes riskless war is dangerous, destructive, and overly easy. The ethical issues of asymmetric risk, moral hazard, and destructive behavior are difficult considerations to face, but necessary to reconcile. Ultimately, despite these concerns, the RPA is an ethical instrument of air warfare which leaders should certainly take advantage of, if they do so judiciously as they should with any weapon.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 10:11pm | 0 comments
U.S. Department of the Treasury Report: "Action Targets ISIS Financial Facilitators and Money Transfer Company"
by Bruce McClintock | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 6:01pm | 0 comments
Imagine this: As you drive down the highway at the speed limit in the right lane, another car races past you on the left then veers into your lane without warning. The other car then slows down until it is just feet in front of you, forcing you to make a quick decision to slow down, change lanes or even swerve off the road to the right to avoid a collision. Now imagine the same scenario involving two satellites orbiting 22,000 miles above the earth and traveling at 6,800 miles per hour.
by Barnett S. Koven | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 9:16am | 0 comments
This article is informed by the author’s experience adapting his previous fieldwork studying counterinsurgency in Colombia into lecture content for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School’s Contemporary Irregular Warfare Course.
by SWJ Editors | Sun, 04/14/2019 - 4:57pm | 0 comments
The 279 page edited work Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán: Imagery, Symbolism, and Narratives is divided into a preface, introduction, twelve chapters, postscript, imagery data set, four appendices, selected references, and further readings. This Small Wars Journal-El Centro eBook is edited by Robert J. Bunker and Alma Keshavarz.
by Aleksandra Nesic, by Arnel David | Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:31am | 7 comments
Special Operations Forces (SOF) must continue to build capability and capacity to scientifically understand, accurately interpret and effectively influence human behavior. It is the SOF operator who will be on the ground early, working with an indigenous populace, learning to understand a given situation in order to provide critical context to both civilian and military leadership. SOF must be able to navigate complex social systems and operate at a speed that creates critical decision space while ensuring their actions don’t make matters worse.
by Bradley Fultz | Sat, 04/13/2019 - 8:18am | 1 comment
The Republic of Georgia is a loyal U.S. ally and the largest non-NATO contributing nation to Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Georgia’s geographic location combined with firmly entrenched western values amongst its engaged populace make Tbilisi an ideal partner for both today and the foreseeable future in the contest against regional near-peer enemies. This article provides needed context and background regarding this important U.S. military partner.
by Patrick Burke | Fri, 04/12/2019 - 4:12am | 0 comments
“Jim Roussell and the Marines he works with broke the Abu Ali cell of the Iraqi insurgency in much the same way he caught gang leaders on Chicago's West Side,” according to a 2007 article from the Chicago Tribune. Sgt. Russel’s success illustrates that counterinsurgents can learn from U.S. law enforcement, and vice-versa.
by John Turner | Thu, 04/11/2019 - 11:25am | 1 comment
The dramatic increase of Venezuelan refugees entering the country, record-level coca cultivation and cocaine production levels, and the power vacuum created by the disarmament, and demobilization of the country’s oldest insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in key cultivation and smuggling areas are just a few things for U.S. policy makers, defense officials, and legislators to take into consideration as they evaluate bilateral security assistance to Colombia.

Blog Posts

by The Washington Post | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 9:14pm | 0 comments
"President Trump’s veto of legislation designed to disentangle the United States from a punishing war in Yemen sets the stage for a continued stalemate in the conflict, former officials and analysts said, with civilians likely to pay the highest price."
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 7:47pm | 0 comments
"The gathering was to have been the first since the latest effort resumed that Taliban and government officials were to be in the same room."
by Voice of America | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 10:30am | 0 comments
"Suspected separatist militants ambushed a bus in southwestern Pakistan before dawn Thursday and killed 14 passengers, mostly navy personnel."
by USA Today | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 8:15am | 0 comments
"ISIS-affiliated terrorists in Afghanistan, noted for their brutality in a brutal land, pose the top threat for spectacular attacks in the United States, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official."
by Reuters | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 8:05am | 0 comments
"A meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians and civil society aimed at ending more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan has been postponed, officials and diplomats said on Thursday, citing Taliban objections to the size of the Afghan delegation."
by | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 7:24am | 0 comments
"The Marine Corps plans to launch an urban-combat operations experiment this summer, and the service wants defense firms and academia to submit ideas for weapons and fighting technologies aimed at making Marine infantry units more effective in this deadly environment."
by Jerusalem Post | Wed, 04/17/2019 - 3:49pm | 0 comments
"Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's senior advisor, told foreign diplomats on Wednesday that the 'deal of the century' will be released in June, after Ramadan, a source familiar with the remarks told The Jerusalem Post."
by Reuters | Wed, 04/17/2019 - 6:27am | 0 comments
"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had reason to believe that leaking U.S. military reports "would cause injury" to the country, federal prosecutors alleged in a newly unsealed court filing on Monday."
by SWJ Editors | Tue, 04/16/2019 - 5:28pm | 0 comments
Jane's 360 - "The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fighting in the Battle of Marawi in 2017 were forced to adjust to urban warfare with several novel uses for legacy equipment, senior sources have disclosed."
by The Jamestown Foundation | Tue, 04/16/2019 - 5:12pm | 1 comment
"Russia’s growing employment of non-linear forms of warfare (including private military contractors) has long historical traditions. This paper seeks to discuss the main milestones of historical evolution of Russia’s use of mercenary and irregular forces from Tsarist Russia to the final days of the Soviet Union."
by Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments | Tue, 04/16/2019 - 4:20pm | 0 comments
"Piercing the Fog of Peace: Developing Innovative Operational Concepts for a New Era" is meant to stimulate discussion of, and ultimately spur action to develop, the concepts and capabilities the United States needs to prevail in a more dangerous world.
by Foreign Affairs | Tue, 04/16/2019 - 3:22pm | 0 comments
"Much remains uncertain about the U.S. withdrawal. But whatever the final troop levels turn out to be, Trump’s decision to significantly reduce the American footprint in Syria is unlikely to be reversed."
by Voice of America | Tue, 04/16/2019 - 12:21pm | 0 comments
VOA News Video Report: "An already bad situation in the West African nation of Burkina Faso appears to be getting worse."
by CNN News | Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:37am | 0 comments
"The Pentagon is developing new military options for Venezuela aimed at deterring Russian, Cuban and Chinese influence inside the regime of President Nicolas Maduro, but stopping short of any kinetic military actions, according to a defense official familiar with the effort."
by Army Times | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 11:58pm | 0 comments
"New details on the Army’s future vertical lift program show more about what they and their Marine Corps and special operations partners want out of their latest helicopter program, the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft."